The EU approves new rules for a cleaner, more resilient energy future

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Europe’s Parliament has approved new rules to create an electricity market that is more competitive, cleaner, and better able to deal with potential risks.

Four new laws will be enacted under the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, originally agreed to, albeit informally, in late 2018.

The agreements will now have to be officially approved by union ministers, and then be published in the Official Journal of the EU. Thereafter, the new laws will be enacted.

One of the main goals is the trade of renewables, with the new rules stating that up to 70% of trade capacity may cross borders freely within the union. This in turn would support the EU’s commitment to 32% renewable energy by 2030.

Currently EU laws allow member states to pay power plants to remain on standby in times of peak demand, as part of capacity market schemes, but the new rules will impose stricter limits in the hopes of preventing state aid to heavily-polluting power plants.

Member states will still be able to regulate prices for the time being in order to protect poor and vulnerable households, although this will be strictly monitored, and future support will be driven by social security services.

The measures will apply immediately to new power plants whilst existing power stations will have to comply by 2025.

Customers are set to benefit from the new legislation, which aim to improve access to smart metering, variable pricing and provider-switching at no cost, and within 24 hours by as soon as 2026.

Member states are to draft national plans, and assess the risk of power shortages, as well cooperate at regional levels. Member states assisted by other EU nations are also to bear all “reasonable costs” associated therewith.

Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy welcomed the news, adding: “I thank the European Parliament for its strong support for the clean and fair energy transition, taking the EU a step closer towards delivering the Energy Union with citizens at its core, one of the key priorities President Juncker set out for this Commission.

“(The) approval of the new electricity market design will make energy markets more flexible and facilitate the integration of a greater share of renewable energy. An integrated EU energy market is the most cost-effective way to ensure secure and affordable supplies to all EU citizens. I am particularly pleased that we have agreed on a common framework for capacity mechanisms that will ensure such mechanisms will be in line with our climate objectives in the future while taking into account legitimate security of supply concerns.”